Three Points of Contact :The Chains on Jimmy
The Rockcliffe Relief Camp in 1935 houses many men, even more grievances, but few hopes.
Jimmy Dixon, a wide-eyed kid in the orderly chaos of the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919, is by now a seasoned labour organizer seeking to wrest the chains from the legs of the working class. At the relief camp he finds a purpose. Here are men who do hard labour for twenty cents a day, men who may not need much pusuasion to take a stand.
Jimmy takes under his wing one of the many farmers who have dispersed on the wind much as their farms had done years before. Duncan Sorenson is far from home with no option but to seek out the dubious respite of the relief camp system. Jimmy not only ensures the jackboot of capitalism does not become lodged up their asses, he helps his young friend overcome his farm-fed shyness when he comes face to face with an actual female person.
Her name is Laura Bates. Few young women in the Depression have many choices and hope seems futile. She, struggling to support her ailing mother and keep a small market garden in business while working part-time at the camp, finally feels that, in Duncan, she has both.
Hope springs for all three, but for all three one man stands in their way. Joseph Bedford, a practiced extortionist and embezzler, has power over each of them, power which he wants to use to control Laura’s person and property and put Jimmy behind bars as a Red. On the same day that angry relief camp strikers are squaring off against mounted, armed police, Bedford is found toes up, literally dead in a ditch. When it is clear he has been murdered, suspicion, then, falls on all three.
Till Death, and After
Enlightenment dwelt in a borrowed brick house on Avenue Road, steps from the managed landscapes and obedient flowerbeds of The Regent’s Park. Most days, a bland workaday parade of foot traffic and an occasional horse and carriage passed outside, thoroughly oblivious to the opportunity for illumination nearby, to say nothing of the need for it in these or any times. On the other side of the ruddy masonry walls of number 19, though, efforts had been made to satisfy a visitor’s need for guidance. A weeks-long succession of tradesmen had been shooed away early, their work renovating the house paused, at least for the day. In their place were mysticism and esoteric discourse personified by the wild-haired, grey-eyed woman holding court.
She was but one person, yet one that demanded all visitors, be they friends, supplicants, or both, wait patiently for her pronouncements, knowing that Truth, pleasing or not, might well be sharply delivered. The ambient tranquillity of the muted indoor light on this day did little to blunt the effect of the word she uttered, a word she used with relish, accompanied by a sardonic narrowing of her eyes.
Chase Robinson’s life is under siege, his condition intolerable.
His future, the carefully crafted Plan of his life, is slowly disintegrating. He must either impotently observe it decay and crumble or defy the blunt wishes of She-Who-Gave-Him-Life.
“Stay out of that man’s way,” his mother simply said. “He’s dangerous.”
Gary Twolan, the hairball that walks like a man, had briefly dated Chase’s mom. Now, Kelly won’t let Gary touch her. It’s all the more curious, then, that he’s moved into the spare room of the row house that used to be just for Chase, his mom and Loki the mutt.
“It’s temporary,” she says. And nothing more.
Gary doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t have a job. His massively intrusive ass is oppressively present, his leering smile at the ready, his grating voice never far away. The very him of him draws the vitality, drains the life from the row house. The safe place Chase needs to launch his career, to conceive and illustrate ideas, seems forever gone, leaving him with nothing but a numbing sense of despair. When Gary’s efforts to impose his greasy self on Kelly become aggressively, threateningly insistent, Chase transforms his misery into an icy rage, then consumes it as fuel for a creative solution to his Gary problem.
He’ll have to keep his project a secret from his mother. She can never know how he harries, provokes, and pranks Gary. It must be a perfect crime, to be scripted and executed with precision.
It’s not supposed to be lethal. And it’s really not supposed to bring out the killer in his mother.
But even the best plans can run into a snag or two.
Now available as both ebook and paperback.
Buddha Girl and the Prophet of Failure
(send me a request for any of the next three and I’ll send you an e-version for free)
Even as her summer to-do list grows, Rachael Cox writes to her dad as often as she can.
He’s dead, so he doesn’t reply.
It’s too bad because Rach needs some advice about a creep, her own personal creep, whose power over Rach is kind of her dad’s fault.
This person, this slimeball in sandals and socks, has found her dad’s note, discerned its meaning. And now he’s using it to ensure Rach cooperates with … something. He needs Rach, has plans for her, but he won’t say what.
It’s beyond creepy – it’s disturbed. And it’s driving her nuts.
She could take his power away by revealing the contents of her dad’s note herself. It’s clear enough. Her mom would see that it wasn’t an accident, that in a moment of despair he drove off that road on purpose.
But it would break her. Again.
When Rach’s friend, Dayn Hunter, confronts her tormentor outside his home, she watches and waits. Intimidation is one of the many things Dayn sucks at, but his stylish failure serves to goad Rach’s creep into a brief, murderous chase.
Rach seizes the moment to indulge in a little burglary. Finding some interesting literature in the house, she might even make a clean getaway but for the OCD monster in her head. Tiring of trying to kill Dayn, her nemesis returns to find Rach trapped by her own compulsive rituals. Thinking that the universe has brought Rach to him, he reveals why he has been watching her. He and a gang of like-minded co-creeps think she has an ancient soul. She’s the Incarnation, whatever that is.
The only appropriate response is to run like hell. As her sprint stretches into a middle-distance race, Rach realizes that her summer to-do list has grown.
Protect her mom. Save Dayn.
Come to terms with her dad’s death.
Save Dayn some more.
And figure out why the nutjobs think she’s the Buddha Girl.
London Calling Buddha Girl
A modest sign on an ordinary door. London Blavatskian Society. Rach’s hand reaches out to pull on it.
The people and the ideas behind this door both fascinate and terrify Rachael. They represent a link to her father and her past. But they are also a link to people who had tried to hijack her future, who thought that she was the reincarnation of their founder. Going through the door might give her knowledge, perspective and peace. Or it could totally freak her out.
Even the shirt he wears makes Dayn a target in some parts of London. Risk is a normal part of life for someone whose decision-making skills suck out loud. And he usually enjoys anything spontaneous, all good clean fun no matter how unwise or ill-considered. But he knows entering this particular building is a bad idea, an unnecessary risk. Nuts, even.
In that brief moment of indecision, Rach will again struggle for identity as she is fatefully drawn towards the enigmatic Russian occultist for whom the Society is named.
She could choose doubt – let go of the door and walk away from the uncomfortable questions of her origins.
She could choose knowledge – open the door and pay whatever price the knowledge she gains will demand.
But the price might be Dayn, standing right beside her. Because he’s such a big dope, he might think he has to protect her. That would make him the first target of people who seemed to be as powerful as they were mysterious. She had no right to risk him this way.
People do a lot things they have no right to do.
Buddha Girl in the City of Light
Rach knows that the only way to keep their families safe is to ditch them. Leave them in London and don’t look back.
Dayn figures that excuse is as good as any. He’s having the best time EVER, even after losing most of the skin on his elbows and knees escaping a crooked cop in London. Discovering that a continental breakfast is not as big as it sounds is harder to get over.
Traveling in the north of France, everyone is a stranger, yet everyone seems to know who they are. Each decision – where to go, how to get there, who to trust – leads them closer to the very people they are trying to escape, nearer to a reckoning with an identity Rach has been denying. Near Paris, the City of Light, the two friends become separated. Allies, as unexpected as they are welcome, maintain them until forces far greater and more disparate than anyone realizes converge on an historic landmark.
For his part, Dayn chooses not to decide, but to let the universe direct him to the place he should be, at the time he can make a difference. As long as his favourite soccer jersey survives, so will he.
He can’t know the danger that his jersey is in and that a terrible choice will be forced on Rach – surrender her own life and the secrets she possesses or witness her soon-to-be ragged, limping, stalwart friend be killed.